Hail, and well met! I'm Jim Rodda, better known to the assorted scallywags, rapscallions, and ne'er-do-wells of the hobbyist 3D printing community as Zheng3.
My minor maker claim to fame is Seej, the Open Source tabletop war game based around 3D printing, but with this Kickstarter I'm trying something a little different.
I'm making Barbie-compatible 3D printed medieval armor.
It's important to note that I'm not now and never have been associated with Mattel, undisputed masters of Barbie and all her associated trademarks. I'm just some dude cranking out 3d models in his basement.
Barbie has had many occupations over her long and storied career. Astronaut, veterinarian, pinup, and princess more times than I can count. She has not, to my knowledge, cosplayed as Brienne of Tarth until now.
The field plate armor depicted in the photos and video above is a nice-enough prototype, good enough for patrolling the battlements at Stonemist Castle. But wearing it to a meeting of the Kingsguard? To the Council of Elrond? To prom? Honestly.
A fully funded Kickstarter will enable me to design and produce the next iteration of the prototype armor, a favolosa e bellissima ensemble that befits a lady of Barbie's high station.
Permit me to be crystal clear about two things:
1. My goal is primarily to distribute digital files for this armor; I'm happy to print rewards for backers but would prefer not to run a factory in the long term.
2. GIF is pronounced with a hard G, no matter what Steve Wilhite says.
The funding will cover the biodegradable plastic used to print the armor, replacement printer parts, and, most importantly, the time needed to design a highly detailed suit of armor, with all the engraving, ensorcelling, and enamelling Barbie's parade panoply deserves.
And test prints. Zounds, will there be test prints.
The armor will be distributed under a Creative Commons License. In a nutshell, you'll be able to modify, redistribute, and even sell the digital files and their derivatives as long as you credit the original designer. That's me.
Also note that I'm not selling Barbie dolls; if you want to use this armor you'll have to buy a Barbie Fashionistas Doll first.
If you've already got a 3D printer and know a doll that needs arming, head on over to The Forge and download a copy of the Athena Makeover Kit:
The spear and aegis should fit most dolls, although the winged boots are designed specifically for Barbie's feet.
While you're poking around The Forge, feel free to download a 3D squirrel or two. Be careful, some of them are armed.
Design and Protoyping
The inspiration for this armor came, indirectly, from my four-year-old niece. I wanted to print something unique for her next birthday, and so decided to design and engineer a pair of My Little Pony-compatible glitter cannons. (Note to self: next Kickstarter should involve My Little Pony-compatible glitter cannons.)
But! Moving parts and springs can be tough to do at this level of 3D printing, and after a few test prints I became frustrated and fell back on my usual method for generating new ideas: drinking three lattes and taking a hot shower.
Midway through my fourth latte, the idea to create 3D printed armor for Barbie sprang from my head, fully formed. Highly caffeinated and towel-clad I dashed over to the laptop and ordered a Fashionistas doll.
The design process is straightforward: photograph the doll from multiple angles and then use the photos as reference images in Maya, my 3D modelling package of choice.
The next step is printing a low-resolution test piece to see if it's a good fit on the doll. I'm doing all my prints on a Makerbot Replicator1, which has proven itself to be a reliable, if no longer bleeding-edge 3D printer.
(How about we all just let that last sentence sink in for a minute and realize we live in The Future?)
Finally, after many iterations and tweaks, print the piece at high resolution and call it good. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Barbie takes her fashion seriously, so it's important to get the fit just right. Here's our favorite model amid a pile of not-quite-snug-enough or just-a-bit-too-loose prototypes. Note the boot model in the lower left.
Funding Goal Reached, Stretch Goal Announced!
A huge thank you to all of Faire Play's backers! We've reached our initial funding goal with two weeks to go. I've been inspired by your generosity, and so I've created the Faire Play Recurve Bow as a digital token of gratitude for you all.
You can download the STL files for the bow from The Forge.
Stretch goal! If we can raise another $1000, I'll glamourize the bow and make it available on Shapeways so that anyone can make Babs deadly at a distance with a couple of clicks.
The Aegis Pendant
Bowing to popular demand I've introduced a new backer reward, the Aegis Pendant. It'll be 3D printed in your choice of metals: Antique Bronze Steel, Polished Gray Steel, or Polished Gold Steel. Thanks Shapeways!
Didja know you can 3D print in metal? Wowzers.
Backers at the $65 level will also receive the digital files for both suits of armor *and* the digital files for the Athena makeover kit.
UPDATE: A metal proof of the pendant has arrived from Shapeways! Here's what it looks like in polished grey steel.
Production and Fulfillment Plan
Step 1: Model the parade armor and print prototypes. April/May 2014
I expect this process to take approximately two months. I'll embellish the 3D model I've already created, adding every rivet, flourish, and bevel required to create a truly elegant suit of parade armor. I'll be test-printing prototypes and publicly documenting the process at Zheng3.com.
Step 2: Print Athena Makeover Kit awards. April through August 2014
My 3D printer will dutifully churn out Makeover kits while I'm busy detailing the parade armor. At a rate of two kits a day I should have plenty printed by the time I need to deliver them to my backers. Then it's just a matter of boxing them up and shipping them out.
Step 3: Print parade armor for backers. June/July 2014
My experiments have shown that I can print roughly one suit of field plate in a day, though I expect the detail on the parade suits to require a little more time. I've intentionally limited the number of reward suits I'm shipping to a total of thirty, so we're looking at somewhere around a month and a half to get them all printed.
Step 4: Design custom shields for top-tier backers. July 2014
I'll be doing this step concurrent with Steps 2 and 3; while the printer is burbling away I'll be locked in my office with Illustrator, Photoshop, Maya, Science Friday podcasts, and three pounds of chocolate-covered espresso beans.
Step 5: Deliver the goods, digital and physical. July and August 2014
Digital rewards will be shipped first: a .ZIP file of the armor should still be small enough to fit in an email attachment.
I'm anticipating a few days of parcel stuffing and label-affixing before the physical rewards can ship. I'll be investigating shipping options throughout the production period.
Risks and challenges
I'm quite confident in the printability of the field plate armor; I've printed every piece at least a dozen times already.
The parade armor has filigrees, engravings, gewgaws, gubbinses, and assorted skeuomorphisms that will need to be designed so they can be printed with a minimum of fuss, but shouldn't affect the stability of the print.
House of Cards isn't releasing Season 3 until well after the Kickstarter is scheduled to finish, so that's eliminated as a potential source of delay.
By Grabthar's hammer, I can do this.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Huge thanks to composers Steven O’Brien, Navroz Khosla, and Chino Yoshio. You can find their work on Soundcloud.
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